Former John Locke Foundation Headliner Stephen Hayes explores for Weekly Standard readers the reasons why many Iowa voters are attracted to Texas congressman Ron Paul.

Some like his message, Hayes tells us, while others are responding to a less than stellar field of Republican presidential contenders:

An Iowa voter could look at his choices and see: (1) a former Obama administration official whose top strategist called Republicans “cranks”; (2) a former senator who lost his last race by 18 points and who has run largely on social issues in this time of economic uncertainty; (3) an inexperienced congresswoman from Minnesota with a tendency to misstate facts and a staff with higher turnover than a fast-food restaurant’s; (4) a former speaker of the House who praised Hillary Clinton on health care, worked with Nancy Pelosi on global warming, made $1.6 million from Freddie Mac, wants mirrors in space, and has demagogued Medicare reform from the left; (5) a big-state governor who doesn’t know the details of his own tax plan, who doesn’t know what government agencies he’s promised to cut, who claimed that those who disagree with him on immigration have no heart, and is best known for his many painfully awkward moments in debates; (6) a moderate former governor whose health care plan served as a model for Obamacare, who once called himself a “progressive” Republican not in the tradition of Ronald Reagan, who flip-flopped even on the question of whether he is a flip-flopper, and who largely ignored Iowa until he decided a few weeks ago that he had a chance to win there.

Uncharitable? Yes. Untrue? No.

If this is how you view your choices, a protest vote—even for Ron Paul—isn’t really so irrational. And in such a scenario, doesn’t the fact that Paul cannot win the Republican nomination argue in favor of such a protest vote, not against it?